Introducing… A Midsummer Night’s Dream re-awakened

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Thursday 11 August 2016 may not actually be Midsummer’s Eve, but it will be a long-awaited night at Glyndebourne, when one of the company’s favourite productions, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, will be revived for the first time in ten years.

In this video, Matthew Rose and Duncan Rock, who made a big impact in Festival 2015 singing together in The Rape of Lucretia, talk about their excitement about Britten, the production and returning to Glyndebourne in 2016.

Credit: © Mike Hoban/The Hoban Gravett Archive

Britten, the master composer

Bass Matthew Rose will take on the role of Bottom in the revival of Peter Hall’s production next summer. He observes how Britten has provided a rich repertoire of English-language roles for today’s opera singers:

‘We’re so lucky that this man Britten existed and that he cared so much to write such well-crafted and theatrical pieces. And as British singers we all cherish what he has given us.’

Britten himself was clearly having fun when he wrote A Midsummer Night’s Dream, not least because some of its comedy takes the form of operatic parody. ‘Pyramus and Thisbe’, the play within a play performed by the zany Rustics in the final scene, is a wicked spoof of 19th-century opera. Pyramus enters to a tune oddly recalling the ‘Miserere’ from Verdi’s Il trovatore, whilst Thisbe’s mad lament with obbligato flute brilliantly sends up Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor.

Duncan Rock, who will sing Demetrius, is thrilled to appear in a production that has stood the test of time; first staged in 1982, it is actually older than he is.

The revival of this much-loved production holds particular importance for Matthew Rose: As a young singer, he was first cast in the role of Bottom in 2006, and this helped launch his professional career. As he puts it:

‘The role of Bottom is for me one of the greatest gifts that’s ever been created … Just in itself it’s a brilliant, brilliant role, a wonderful sing and the most enjoyable thing in the world to do.’

Credit: © Mike Hoban/The Hoban Gravett Archive

Celebrating Shakespeare

‘Britten kept the Shakespeare text pretty accurately, so to be singing Shakespeare is quite special for a singer. For me the music and drama always mesh up very very well and that’s what I love about it.’

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of two Shakespeare-inspired operas which will be featured in Festival 2016 in observance of the 400th anniversary of the great playwright’s death. A new production of Berlioz’s rarely-performed Béatrice et Bénédict will round out Glyndebourne’s Shakespeare celebration.

‘[A Midsummer Night’s Dream is] probably the perfect opera for this place … if you’re going to come to Glyndebourne and see something, this wouldn’t be a bad thing to do.’

You can find full details on our other Festival 2016 productions in the season overview.